History and Culture in Kamianets-Podilskyi
With the Smotrych River running through it, the city of Kamianets-Podilskyi is set in very picturesque surroundings. Although some historians are of the opinion that the city is built on the location of a settlement founded by the Dacians who inhabited the area in the 4th century BC, the first historical mention of the settlement was as a Kievan Rus town in 1062. It was destroyed by Mongol Tatar invaders in 1241, and was annexed by Polish King Casimir III in 1352, becoming the capital of the administrative division Podole Voivodship. At this time the existing fortress was extended under orders of the Polish king to defend Poland against Ottoman and Tatar invasions from the southwest, and continued to be added to and fortified by subsequent kings and rulers. Today, the Kamianets-Podilskyi Castle is one of the city’s most prominent landmarks, towering over the Smotrych River from its elevated position on a canyon.
Kamianets-Podilskyi castle is an important tourist attraction for both the city and the region. Along with the Old Town section of the city, the castle is listed as one of the Seven Wonders of Ukraine and has been submitted as a candidate for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
Other places of interest in the city are the Old Town with its narrow, winding cobble-stoned streets and historic buildings, including remnants of the city walls, the fortified Polska and Ruska gates and several towers. Among the historic buildings are the 16th century town hall, the 16th century Church of Saint John the Baptist, the 16th century Holy Trinity Church, the 15th century Church of Saints Peter and Paul, the late 15th century Catholic Gothic cathedral and the Church of Saint Nicholas dating back to 1280 and therefore the oldest Armenian Church in Ukraine.
The beautiful natural surroundings of Kamianets-Podilskyi offer hiking opportunities, with hot air ballooning being a popular option to view the dramatic scenery of the river canyon. There are a number of festivals in the city each year, as well as the annual Cossack Games ( Kozatski zabavy), ballooning championships, car racing, and art and drama events.